Derek Newton reports on a study by Lawrence Tomei and Douglas Nelson in which they consider the maximum size of online, hybrid, and on campus classes if we would like them to be taught well with professors having enough time to do a good job. Tomei and Nelson examined undergraduate and graduate courses in two institutions offered in various modes and calculated the time it would take to teach each course well. They then considered the number of hours a typical professor would be able to devote to teaching during a term. From this information they calculate the maximum class size.
Tomei and Nelson present a very detailed and transparent analysis of arrangements for teaching in the different modes. Not everyone will agree with their assumptions, but they share them fully so it is possible to adjust the assumptions and recalculate one’s own maximum class size. Their general point that distance learning entails limits on the size of student groups is consistent with Ernst Rothkopf’s analysis of the same issue from a different perspective.